As a counselor, there are certain authors I find myself consistently coming back to for solid and engaging writing. One of those authors is Jerry Bridges, whose years of faithfulness has truly blessed the church with a trove of writings like his classics, Trusting God and The Pursuit of Holiness. Long before the current and ongoing discussion of indicatives and imperatives, Bridges was helping us think through his writings about the Christian’s pursuit of holiness and practice of godliness.
With his latest offering, Who Am I? Identity in Christ, Bridges presents, in a short 95 pages, eight descriptions of the believer:
1. I am a creature
2. I am in Christ
3. I am justified
4. I am an adopted son of God
5. I am a new creation
6. I am a saint
7. I am a servant of Christ
8. I am not yet perfect
Unpacking each of the identities with his trademark warmth and readability, the reader will be edified and encouraged. Bridges comments in the introduction to his book that often the people we meet and counsel have inaccurate portraits of themselves. He writes:
“As Christians, however, our identity is to be found in our relationship with Christ, not in our subjective and often negative life experiences. In our ministry to students, therefore, we seek to help them become aware of their ‘position and identity in Christ,’ so that their answer to the question, ‘Who am I?’ is based on what it means to be ‘in Christ.’”
Often biblical counselors are known for offering various recommendations for books. Here are some thoughtful and intentional ways one could use Bridges’ book:
The simplest would be for you and your counselee to read through Bridges’ book. The short length, readability and fairly low cost all combine to make this an excellent resource which most will not find overwhelming. Over eight sessions this book could serve as a helpful framework for your sessions.
Truth for Life has offered the book in an audiobook format read by Pastor Alistair Begg. Information on how to obtain this is available here. Especially for those counselees who have extended commutes, or other extended periods of solitude, this audio resource could be another way to digest this material.
At the end each chapter, Bridges offers an application and summary which you could use as a springboard for discussion and homework.
You could encourage your counselee to write a reflective prayer of thanksgiving following each chapter based on the chapter she read.
Encourage the counselee to research and write additional chapters. Scripture is full of rich descriptions of who we are in Christ. While Bridges offers eight helpful summaries, the counselor can surely encourage the counselee to delve into Scripture to find additional summaries of what Christ says about his relationship to him.
- Ask your counselee to commit to heart one of the many verses Bridges incorporates in his chapter, i.e. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
As one who has been blessed and encouraged by Bridge’s writing, I trust that his newest work will continue to help equip and edify the body of Christ. Pick up a copy today!